The key talking points from England’s 12-6 win over Wales at Twickenham in the 2018 Six Nations
England 12-6 Wales Talking Points
Two Jonny May tries in the first quarter got the Twickenham crowd excited, but this was not the try-fest witnessed in the win over Italy in Rome last weekend – the wet weather didn’t help on that front.
After Rhys Patchell had slotted a penalty for Wales in the 24th minute there wasn’t a point scored until the 76th minute, when Gareth Anscombe kicked another penalty to give Wales a losing bonus point.
In fact, this is the lowest-scoring England v Wales game since 1988, when Wales won 11-3 at Twickenham.
It may not have been a thriller, but there is still plenty to reflect on. Here are the key talking points from the game at Twickenham…
The Ford-Farrell kicking axis
England’s 10-12 combination of George Ford and Owen Farrell has long been hailed and against Wales the duo’s kicking games really came to the fore.
When Anthony Watson beat Rhys Patchell to a high ball to tap it back, it was Farrell who was quick to put boot to ball and the pace of Jonny May saw the England wing reach it first to touch down.
A few minutes later, Ford put a kick ahead that Farrell chased and made several metres towards the Wales’ 22. Later there was another chip out wide to May.
Overall, the England pair kicked smarter and more accurately than Wales – and that ability to mix their kicks allowed them to set up attacking positions and put pressure on the visitors. It also made Wales’ line speed in defence less of a factor.
The bottle of Rhys Patchell
We had to mention Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell after Eddie Jones had openly questioned his bottle in the lead-up to this match.
Neither he nor Gareth Anscombe were as reliable under the high ball as Leigh Halfpenny surely would have been if he hadn’t had to pull out before kick-off.
Yet Patchell definitely showed bottle when backing himself to beat Owen Farrell and Anthony Watson with his sidestep when running out of his own 22 on two occasions in the first half.
The work-rate of Joe Launchbury
Maro Itoje may be the more well-known of the England locks but Joe Launchbury was the standout at Twickenham.
He was ever-present at the contact area, put in thumping hits and delivered a sweet pass back inside to set up Jonny May’s second try while being tackled by two players.
Mike Brown was also brilliantly assertive under the high ball – not an easy task in the wet conditions – and was duly named Man of the Match.
Much-debated TMO call
In the 22nd minute Rhys Patchell put in a cross-field kick to Steff Evans. The ball then ricocheted off Evans’s knee, which led to a chase between Anthony Watson and Gareth Anscombe to touch the ball down first.
The decision went to the TMO. It was an extremely tight call and Glenn Newman ruled that the ball hadn’t been clearly grounded by Anscombe first. It caused much debate on social media and these two Wales internationals didn’t seem to agree with the call given their Twitter posts…
Wales coach Warren Gatland wasn’t happy with the decision either, saying afterwards: “It looked like a clear try to me. They flew a guy in from New Zealand to be TMO and unfortunately I think he made a terrible mistake. At this level that is pretty disappointing.
“I struggled a little bit with the wording. He said England got there first and there was no clear downward pressure from Wales. I thought Gareth got there first and there was clear downward pressure. In front of 82,000 people with a lot at stake, you need to get those decisions right.”
Watch the footage of the Watson-Anscombe chase here to see what you think…
Related: How the TMO in rugby works
That Sam Underhill tackle
Sam Underhill arrived at half-time to replace Sam Simmonds but it was in the 62nd minute that he made his most crucial intervention.
Wales broke down the wing and Scott Williams looked to be in for a try that would have cut England’s 12-3 lead. As he dived towards the line, Underhill flew in to drag his legs across the touchline before he had a chance to ground the ball.
Watch the Sam Underhill tackle on Scott Williams here:
If Williams had scored then, it could have been a very different game.
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England – Tries: May 2. Con: Farrell.
Wales – Pens: Patchell, Anscombe.